Meet Our Champions: Dan Fortin

The Champions series by Sarah Brown profiles those who are supporting social and economic good in society. This is Carleton’s founding premise and it’s being celebrated on the cusp of the university’s 75th anniversary in 2017. Learn more about Carleton’s most ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign. Together, we’re #HereforGood. 

Dan Fortin photographed in Toronto 2016 by Chris Roussakis

 

Dan Fortin, BEng/78, LLD/09, stepped straight out of university and into a job with IBM, launching a high-tech career that saw him take on increasingly challenging management roles in the company, retiring as president of IBM Canada in 2014. Throughout his career he has always carved out time to get involved with philanthropic and not-for-profit causes. Says Fortin: “I find it a privilege to be asked to help. I get a tremendous amount of joy and satisfaction from giving back.”

Fortin sits on Carleton’s Board of Governors and uses his considerable skills as a champion for the Fund for Good. His goal is a lofty one — work with his fellow alumni to raise $1 million to fund students looking to get involved in experiential learning opportunities. “This campaign is so exciting because it is so diverse,” says Fortin, who envisions students from all faculties having the opportunity to undertake in-depth research studies, internships, and overseas learning.

Carleton U. supporter Dan Fortin gives his take on what makes his alma mater so awesome — and plays a quick game of Would You Rather:

Alma Matters

As a teen, my favourite books… were written by Wilbur Smith. I’ve actually been reading his books for more than 40 years. He’s a historical novelist from Africa. His work is fictional, but he has created a couple of different families and his novels follow their lives through the 18th century. What was it like to go on an elephant-hunting trip way back then? What was it like in the diamond mines? I’d wait for his books to come out and set them aside for when I had vacation time.

If I could start all over again at Carleton, I would… study engineering just like I did the first time around. It was perfect for me. The unique thing about the engineering program when I was there was that it was a cross-disciplinary until my final year. We were all in together. There was such a richness in doing it this way.

Education is so important because… you learn to learn. And once you’ve got that mastered, you can accomplish so much.

I give back because… Carleton University is a unique institution. It offers many interdisciplinary degrees, which I think is so important. The university leads the way in this, and I’m extremely proud of what it’s doing. The world today is interdisciplinary and collaborative.

Dan Fortin photographed in Toronto 2016 by Chris Roussakis

 

Would You Rather?  

Given that engineers are renowned for having adventurous spirits, we challenge you, Dan Fortin, to a series of “would you rather” questions in honour of Carleton University’s 75th birthday in 2017.

Would you rather… go back in time to a Panda Game from your undergrad years or enjoy a front-row seat at the 2017 game?

Fortin: I’d love to go back to 1978. I can’t even begin to describe what the game was like in the 70s, and that will never be repeated, so it would be fun to relive it.

Would you rather… live for a year in the underground tunnels or in a tent on the shores of the Canal?

Fortin: I don’t know if I’d want to live in the tunnels for a whole year — they’re a bit humid and dark — but they are unique. To have the insight to build the tunnels was great. As a student, I thought it was amazing that I didn’t have to trudge into class with boots and a coat — you just popped in and there you were.

Would you rather… spend an afternoon with infamous Carleton alumnus Conrad Black or famous alumnus Dan Aykroyd? Michael Cowpland or Karim Rashid?

Fortin: Definitely Dan Aykroyd. Imagine what his time at university was like! I’d love to know what impact university life had on him. For the second duo, I’ve had the opportunity to meet Mr. Cowpland so I’ll go with Karim Rashid. He’s a unique individual who thinks outside the box and is very creative.

Would you rather… design a new building to celebrate Carleton’s 75th or a state-of-the-art laboratory? 

Fortin: I’d have to go with the lab. Perhaps not a lab in the classic sense, but it would be fun to think up more of a design lab with collaborative spaces.

Would you rather… party like it’s 1978 or 2017?

Fortin: In 1978 I partied lots, but that was then and this is now. I’m really looking forward to Carleton’s celebrations of 2017. I haven’t yet lived 2017, so I can’t wait for that.

Meet Our Champions: Dr. Chris Carruthers

The Champions series by Sarah Brown profiles those who are supporting social and economic good in society. This is Carleton’s founding premise and it’s being celebrated on the cusp of the university’s 75th anniversary in 2017. Learn more about Carleton’s most ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign. Together, we’re Here for Good. 

Dr. Chris Caruthers, Carleton University

 

He’s the Chair of Carleton University’s Board of Governors and has taken on a leading role in raising awareness and funds for the new Academic Health Sciences Building. Dr. Chris Carruthers, BSc/64, received two post-graduate degrees after leaving Carleton, but has always maintained strong ties to his original alma mater.

His background as a physician makes Dr. Carruthers a natural to champion the new Health Sciences program and the state-of-the-art Academic Health Sciences Building that will house it. “We can’t keep spending all our money on the delivery of health,” he explains. “We have to analyze population health, study how to predict and prevent health crises, and anticipate what the future holds.”

Here’s why Chris Carruthers, health-care consultant, former chief of staff at The Ottawa Hospital, and Chair of Carleton’s Board of Governors, gives back:

Lessons Learned and Life Advice (Courtesy of the Carleton Years)

On Success — And Paying it Forward

Success is a supportive family — you want your kids to achieve their own success and that has worked out well for me.

True success is also recognizing that if you’ve been fortunate in your career and life, you should give back. Carleton was my first university. It was a great experience. Some of my closest friends are the ones I went to Carleton with — four came down for this year’s Panda Game! I want to give back to this community.

On the Importance of Education — And Having a Good Time

I think of education as a ladder to the career you want. For many jobs, you need to have a degree just to get a foot in the door. But people sometimes forget that the experience of getting an education is just as important as the education itself. What we talk about all of those years after we graduate is the friendships and fun we had. It’s the whole package of university that makes the person.

On What to Study in Undergrad

Obviously you should take what you want — you have to have a passion and a direction. But, honestly, I’d counsel any new student to throw in a business course and a computer course if they can fit it into their timetable. I think everyone should have some basic business and computer understanding before they head out into the world.

Dr. Chris Carruthers, Carleton University

Dr. Chris Carruthers, BSc/64, outside the in-construction Health Sciences Building in October 2016.

Lightning Round: The Five Ws

Who inspired you as an undergrad?

Professor Nesbitt, who was the head of science at my time, was a real dynamo. Professor John ApSimon [who received the Founders Award in 2014 after 52 years at Carleton University] is also a professor I still remember and think about.

What makes Carleton University stand out?

It’s a great package — it gives students that combination of a great education and a great environment. There’s a strong sense of community.

When you think about favourite university memories, what comes to mind?

I should probably say the classes I took and the knowledge I gained, but really it was the friends I met, the social times, the football games. Those stay with you.

Where is your favourite spot on campus?

The library and the quad area. I did a lot of studying at the library, but it was also a social hub and meeting place.

Why give back?

I have a fundamental belief that I have been fortunate and should give back. Where I channel my efforts is in institutions I’m close to — that includes Carleton. Because I’m on the Board of Governors, I spend a lot of time here — I joke that my unofficial office is the Tims in the River Building.

Photos by Olga Janina.

Meet Our Champions: Linda Ann Daly

The Champions series by Sarah Brown profiles those who are supporting social and economic good in society. This is Carleton’s founding premise and it’s being celebrated on the cusp of the university’s 75th anniversary in 2017. Learn more about Carleton’s most ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign. Together, we’re Here for Good. 

Linda Ann Daly, Carleton University

 

Linda Ann Daly, BA/71, has always been a Carleton enthusiast. Growing up in the small south-east Ontario community of Ingleside, she was accepted to a number of universities but, “even at 18 I somehow sensed that Carleton was the perfect fit for me — I was so thrilled to study here.”

Her commitment to her alma mater continued over the years, but was rekindled in a very personal way by a special student. Rodrigo Pereira arrived at the Kingston home of Linda Ann and her husband, Walter Fenlon, in 2009 as a high school Rotary scholar. They hosted the Brazilian student for four months, connecting with him deeply. When it was time for Pereira to return home, the couple offered to help support him if he wanted to return to Canada for university. Rodrigo would go on to enroll in the Sprott School of Business, enjoying three years as a popular and engaged student before his life was tragically cut short by cancer in 2014.

Today Linda Ann Daly is on the Board of Governors and chairs the Community Relations and Advancement Committee. She and her husband launched the International Student Emergency Fund in Memory of Rodrigo Pereira to help provide short-term financial assistance to international students facing a personal emergency situation.

Walter Fenlon remembers Rodrigo Pereira. Fenlon and Linda Ann Daly were inspired by one incredible student to support other international students.

Walter Fenlon remembers Rodrigo Pereira. Fenlon and Linda Ann Daly were inspired by one incredible student to support other international students.

 

Here, Linda Ann Daly remembers the student who inspired that fund:

On Meeting Rodrigo Pereira When He was a High School Student

In 2009, my husband and I decided to host an international Rotary student, who turned out to be Rodrigo. He stayed with us for four months while he went to high school in Kingston. I still remember contacting Rodrigo’s mother before he arrived. I asked her if she had any advice because I had never been a parent. She wrote back a beautiful note in which she said: “Keep him close, but let him fly. He’s a born leader.” She was so right.

The Importance of the International Student Emergency Fund in Memory of Rodrigo Pereira

Knowing Rodrigo helped me to understand just how vulnerable international students are. Many of them don’t have a lot of money and they can’t just get on the bus and go home or have Mum and Dad pick them up if there’s an emergency. When I joined the Board of Governors, my husband and I set up this fund and made it in Rodrigo’s honour. After he died, it became in memory of Rodrigo. His death came as a shock to us — we expected him to live; we expected him to come back to Carleton to finish his degree.

Carleton’s Continuing Connection with the Pereira Family

Rodrigo died in August 2014. Even though he was very ill, he live-streamed the graduation of his classmates that summer and sent them a note of congratulations. That’s the kind of man he was. He said to me, “I didn’t know if all of my classmates would make it through, and I’m so proud of them.” We were so proud to host his family in Kingston last summer — the highlight was when Carleton University granted Rodrigo his degree posthumously. It meant so much. And now his name continues with this important fund.

Rodrigo Pereira received his degree post-humously. A special ceremony was held in his honour.

Rodrigo Pereira received his degree post-humously. A special ceremony was held in his honour.

 

The 5 Ws:

Who, at Carleton, has inspired you? President and Vice-Chancellor Roseann O’Reilly Runte. I find her to be a visionary. She’s also very real and very sincere. She understands the subtle nuances of saying thank you — she is appreciative and acknowledges everyone’s effort for Carleton.

What is your top Carleton memory? That’s easy! Winning the Panda Game when I was an undergrad.

When are you most engaged? Every June, I participate in a convocation ceremony. It’s such a proud moment when I see the graduating students and hand out awards.

Where is your favourite spot on campus? I don’t have one favourite spot. For me, it’s the overall setting — looking out over the canal.

Why give back? Because Carleton University has such a fantastic culture of inclusiveness. Everyone is given the chance to excel, and I value and love that sentiment.

 

Linda Ann Daly, Carleton University